This week, the spotlight is on Maryland based photographer, Seamus Heneghan. Seamus is another Instagram find. His feed is full of awesome 35mm work, food and plenty of Instant film! Photography is a self-taught hobby for Seamus. By day he is a professional chef in Maryland, where he lives with his girlfriend and 3 cats. Please be sure to check out his social media outlets and show him some love.
How did you get into instant photography?
I’ve always enjoyed the aesthetic of the instant photo. My great-grandfather had a pack-film camera so we had dozens of prints in shoeboxes growing up. When I was a little older, I remember my dad used a 600 for before-and-after pictures of job sites/projects. I shot a couple packs as a teenager, but never had my own camera. It wasn’t until I noticed a few px680 packs in my local film shop a few years back that I realized the Impossible Project even existed. I had picked up a 600 camera for kicks not too long before at a thrift shop, so I was thrilled. I thought I had missed the boat.
What is your favorite camera used for instant photography?
I took the plunge and picked up my first folding sx-70 this summer, and really, nothing compares. I adore my macro 5 slr, but it has its own vision, and you have to play by its rules. But when you play nicely, it’s incredibly rewarding.
What instant camera have you not shot with, but would love to try?
I haven’t shot any Instax wide yet, and I’ve been curious about Lomo’s “bel-air” camera with the “instant-back” since I saw it. I’ve yet to shoot with pack film either, which is something I’d very much like to try before all the b+w film is gone. And maybe some day I’ll get my hands on the mighty mint “slr670m.”
What’s your favorite Impossible film or pack film type?
I’m a sucker for Polaroid’s “grid film,” but it’s hard to find, and expired film can be tricky to work with. I’ve been a bit partial to the gold framed sx-70 stuff lately, primarily due to the lovely autumn foliage all around me these past few weeks.
How have you incorporated instant film into your regular workflow?
I am a film enthusiast, somewhat by chance and mostly for nostalgia. I really got into shooting film when my computer crashed, taking my first 800-or-so digital photos with it. I started shooting instant film specifically when my local film shop closed. It’s been a role reversal of sorts, actually. I used to save polaroids for the most “special” shots, while shooting the bulk of what I saw on my 35mm, but now it’s the other way around.
How would you describe your voice or vision with instant photography? (does it differ from your other work?)
As a largely self-taught artist, I admittedly struggle with the idea of characterizing or explaining my work beyond the message relayed by the work itself. My photography encompasses numerous locations, people, landscapes, and objects; I strive to avoid limiting myself for the sake of establishing a “style,” but instead aim to capture a broader, unrestrained “life” as a whole.
Compared to my other work (specifically culinary) I feel my vision and voice differ greatly, in that I personally feel as though my photography is a bit self-indulgent. I use photography mostly as a way to preserve memories for myself, as well as all the senses and feelings these memories entail. With cooking, in contrast, the process is entirely about the indulgence of another; creating a memory, a multiple sensory experience, for someone else. Of course, it makes me happy when other people enjoy my photos, too.
Any personal projects we should know about?
I am in the beginning stages of a series revolving around butchery– a book-collaboration with a good friend who also happens to be an artist I admire very much. It will be the first real mash-up of two things I love doing: cutting meat and taking polaroids. I’m also going to attempt to set up a personal dark room in my root-cellar this winter to learn the process of self-development.
What other photographers do you look up too?
Todd Hido, Sandy Kim, and Lara Krastner are some of the professionals that inspire and mystify me, as well as the every-day people I’ve connected with on Tumblr who are continually blowing my mind with their work.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into instant photography?
Also, from a technical standpoint, consider what you like to shoot before you decide which format to try first. (That is, assuming you haven’t found a dusty camera in a closet already.) Instant film provides a sizable spectrum: you have 8×10, instax wide, spectra, and pack film, then square frames, then instax mini… It’s a lot to choose from, which can be overwhelming when you’re just getting started, but experimenting and making mistakes is essential to finding one’s personal style and preferred format.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out or wait till it finds you?
I find inspiration for my work in all aspects of life– in the wooded mountains of Appalachia, in meticulously prepared plates of food, in the eclectic mix of people (and animals) I encounter daily, and in my honest self, my past, and my dreams. I don’t feel like I seek anything out– in fact, it can be rather overwhelming. I just try to keep a camera handy, take advantage of the scenery around me, and experiment with color, format, and framing until I create the image as I’ve envisioned it.